Jan Brueghel the Younger
Antwerp 1601 - Antwerp 1678
Frans Francken the Younger
Antwerp 1581 - 1642
Madonna and Child with St. Anne and St. John the Baptist, surrounded by a flower garland.
Oil on Panel, 54.6 x 41.9 cm
Signed lower right within the cartouche: ffranck
A new type of flower painting showing floral garlands surrounding a religious scene was introduced in the early seventeenth century by the Antwerp flower painter Daniel Seghers (1590-1661). Seghers himself part of the Antwerp Jesuit Order, began producing floral garland paintings and floral cartouches from?1625 onwards. In such compositions Seghers would be responsible for the floral painting while a contemporary artist would add the figurative element in the middle cartouche. Conventionally flowers were associated with the Virgin (including iris, aquilegia, lily of the valley, pink, and heartsease) strongly suggest that the centre was intended to be filled by a head of the Virgin. These type of floral compositions with a religious cartouche in its centre became much loved and initiated many fruitful collaborations amongst artists.
Frans Francken the Younger and Jan Brueghel the Younger frequently collaborated on paintings of this type with a Catholic image at centre, painted by Francken, and a floral garland surrounding it, painted by Brueghel. Our painting is an especially fine example of their collaborative works, which were popular in their native Antwerp, a Catholic centre. The iconographic tradition for this imagery comes from a centuries-old tradition of adorning Christian statues with floral wreaths on feast days.
The religious motif can be compared to the bottom left part of the Allegory of the Christ Child as the Lamb of God, dated 1616, in the Rijksmuseum of Amsterdam (see U. Härting, Frans Francken der Jüngere, Freren 1989, no. 360, reproduced).